Can guinea pigs climb at all? Or do they prefer to keep their paws on the floor?
Their amusing shape might lead you to believe that they can’t move around well.
Guinea pigs are funny little creatures.
Their elongated bodies, short legs, bucked teeth, and squeaky voices have made them popular and entertaining family companions for first-time pet owners and small-animal enthusiasts alike!
Maybe you already have a pair of pigs and are interested in their ascending talents.
Or perhaps you’re looking to purchase a few of these potato-shaped fur balls and need to know what to expect.
Either way, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we will go over a bit about the guinea pig and learn whether or not he has the ability to climb.
Can Guinea Pigs Climb?
This question is broad and depends on the situation.
Can guinea pigs climb trees? No, definitely not.
Can guinea pigs climb walls? Not likely.
But can guinea pigs climb ramps, small stairs, and things of that nature? Yes!
The truth is, the guinea pig body type doesn’t allow for complicated scaling of any nature.
Unlike his squirrel and mouse counterparts, the guinea pig is unable to grip most surfaces and will tire of trying rather quickly.
Let’s Meet the Guinea Pig!
Guinea pigs are popular pocket pets known for their potato-shaped bodies and highly social personalities.
Guinea pigs are active and enjoy play and exercise.
They love running through tubes and eating lettuce and other fresh veggies.
In spite of this, their anatomy makes it difficult for them to move too quickly or to—you guessed it—climb high.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t at all, as we’ve seen.
Can Guinea Pigs Climb Out of Their Cages?
If you’re concerned your guinea pig could climb out of his cage, I wouldn’t worry too much.
Even if he’s been plotting his escape for months, chances are that his basic anatomy won’t allow it.
The guinea pig has a long, squat body with fairly short limbs.
He needs his hind legs to hoist him along, and his front legs are simply not strong enough to allow for any 007-style escape out of an enclosure, box, or wall.
Many guinea pig enclosures are left roofless since most little piggies are so inept at climbing.
This means you likely won’t hear of a guinea pig miraculously climbing over their wire-cages or scaling walls anytime soon.
These creatures typically don’t have what it takes on a physical level to pull any of the above off!
Despite the wiring of most enclosures, a guinea pig would have to have some super-piggy strength to be able to grip and climb out of a vertical-wall cage.
Some enclosures are equipped with ramps and tilted ladders inside, which the guinea pig can and will climb.
But is that really climbing, or is it more horizontal walking? You decide.
With all of that being said, if you choose to have an enclosure without a top, we recommend it be at least two feet tall.
We also recommend not leaving other household pets such as dogs and cats unattended with your guinea pigs in their roofless enclosure, as that could have tragic consequences.
Can Guinea Pigs Climb Stairs?
Despite their little arms and legs and inability to climb most things, you might not be able to picture a guinea pig climbing stairs.
But guinea pigs are able to climb certain types of stairs.
If the stairs are low enough, for example, and especially if they are carpeted.
Tall stairs or hardwood stairs may pose more of a problem for your guinea pig, as he will not be able to hoist himself up if he can’t reach the base of the step or if it is too smooth and there is nothing there for him to grip.
If you want to let your guinea pig roam about the house, be sure to keep an eye on him if you have more than one floor to contend with.
For one thing, guinea pigs are quick in spite of their pudgy little physiques.
They are also small and can be easily lost.
And, as we have just covered, guinea pigs are generally able to climb stairs.
If you have blocked off an area for them to play in your home and have thought the stairs would suffice as a way to keep them quarantined, think again.
What Type of Enclosure Is Safest for My Guinea Pigs?
As previously mentioned, some guinea pig owners have opted for a roofless cage.
While this is for the most part safe, considering we just learned that guinea pigs are not the best climbers, keep in mind that if you have other pets in your household, a roofless cage may not be right for you.
The safest enclosure would be one that is approximately 10.5 square feet and, if roofless, at least two feet tall.
Remember, guinea pigs are active creatures who require exercise and social interaction with other guinea pigs.
A cage that is large enough, tall enough, and is properly equipped with exercise tools, healthy foods, and a companion pig should do the trick to keep your little piggy happy, healthy, and secure!
- Harkness et al. Harkness and Wagner’s Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents
- King, Social Relations of the Domestic Guinea Pig Living Under Semi-Natural Conditions, Division of Behavior Studies
- Krskova et al. Guinea Pigs—The “Small Great” Therapist for Autistic Children, or: Do Guinea Pigs Have Positive Effects on Autistic Child Social Behavior? Society & Animals
- Kunzl et al. The Behavioral Endocrinology of Domestication: A Comparison Between the Domestic Guinea Pig (Cavia apereaf.porcellus) and Its Wild Ancestor, the Cavy (Cavia Aperea), Hormones and Behavior
- Sachser and Lick, Social Experience, Behavior, and Stress in Guinea Pigs, Physiology & Behavior